Asking the Question
“What Can I Learn From This?”
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
– Mahatma Ghandi
Stuff happens…in our lives, our families, our workplaces. Sometimes it’s great stuff and sometimes it’s stuff that challenges. We often can’t control what happens, but we do have influence over our responses.
A few weeks ago, I shared some information about resilience and bouncing back from life’s adversities. Today I am sharing another idea that can offer personal benefits. One of the big awareness tools available to each of us is this question:
What can I learn from this?
If we are in the business of growing smarter and living better, we may want to engage ourselves to reflect on our experiences in a thought provoking manner. This awareness process doesn’t need to take much time and can reap big benefits.
Here are a few ideas to get started:
- As accurately as possible, acknowledge the experience – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This might be done by thinking or writing about it. Some of my coaching clients find it helpful to create a journal on which to write a few notes or visuals. The journal can be handwritten or electronic, such as creating a notes page on a cell phone or computer.
- Take a mindful moment to reflect on the situation, your emotions, your understandings, and your choices about it. You might include these reflections in your journal.
- Ask yourself one or more questions. If needed, come back to these questions more than once so you have the opportunity to meaningfully reflect.
What am I afraid of?
What’s the learning in this experience for me?
What would I do differently next time?
What strengths can I engage to move forward?
What can I learn about myself?
- Connect to something larger. Barbara Frederickson, PhD writes “feelings of oneness are often tied to other people but not always.” We can feel connections to nature, deep gratitude, community, or engage our understandings that we are part of something much larger than ourselves.
We may not avoid life’s challenges and adversities, but the question “What can I learn from this?” can help to learn and grow from our experiences.
- Barbara Fredrickson (2009). Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life. Three Rivers Press, NY.
- Christopher Peterson (2006). A Primer in Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press.
- Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD (2016). Embracing Growth or Resisting Change.
- Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD (2017). Resilience: 4 Big Strategies to Bounce Back From Life’s Adversities.
- Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD (2016). The Freedom to Choose a Response.
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